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80-year-old detained for liking social media post critical of Erdoğan

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An 80-year-old man in the Turkish capital city of Ankara was detained on allegations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for liking a post on Facebook that was critical of the president, according to an opposition deputy.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Muharrem Erkek revealed the ordeal of the elderly man, whose name was not released, from his Twitter account on Saturday. He posted a photo of the deposition of the man at the police station — detained on April 15 and then released after giving his statement.

The man was taken to the police station despite a curfew the Turkish government recently imposed on people above the age of 65 as part of measures aimed at containing the COVID-19 epidemic in the country.

In his deposition the man said he did not read the text of the post he liked and had no intention of insulting the president. He also apologized and said he would even kiss the hands of all government officials if necessary, which is considered a sign of respect in Turkish culture.

“An example of how one-man rule functions. An 80-year-old citizen, born in 1940, was taken to a police station and testified for liking a post on Facebook although he is prohibited from going out. It does not matter whether he is infected with the virus or if his health was put at risk. The important thing is the one-man’s will,” tweeted Erkek.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

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